Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/05/09 at 03:06 PM ET
Q. Can you talk about the energy or level of freshness that your team has right now after playing four games in six nights?
COACH BYLSMA: If Geno could have scored that goal at the end of the second, I would have liked to see them keep the roof on this place, because it was hopping in the second period, and that was a big part of our energy.
Q. You said yesterday, talking about Staal, that he told you he had better games than the other one, that’s nice to see a player that’s not only speaking, but he’s speaking on the ice, too.
COACH BYLSMA: Well, again, as a coach and as a player, hopefully you know what your game is and the foundation of your game. And knowing you’re playing well, and you don’t necessarily need to score a goal to know that you’re doing your job or playing the right way and you can add to your foundations.
I thought Game 3 was his best game to that point. That he was getting back to being a presence in the offensive zone, and speed through the neutral zone. Then last night was even better.
There were a couple of times early on in the game he got a puck, and he was skating through the neutral zone and took Ericsson wide, and it was like that’s what he can bring. You know, he’s a big body, but he can move through that neutral zone, escapes well, and drove wide, and then the goal was, you know, the goal was huge. It was a huge point in the game.
There was the point where they had the power play to be able to go up 3?1 and they get a nice play on the boards. Our defensemen and forward, again, the puck was deep, but he took it to the cage and made a great move. That was certainly a big point in the game.
Q. Mike Babcock came to the podium last night and said he thought momentum was only as good as the first shift in your next game. Is that a theory to which you subscribe as well? Or do you think the momentum you’ve built here in the last two games in Pittsburgh can carry over as you go back to Detroit and beyond that, perhaps?
COACH BYLSMA: Hey, I see every game as a separate entity. If we have the momentum right now, we have to reestablish it with our first shift or how we play in the next game.
They’re going home. They get Game 5 at home, and they’re going to regroup, and they’ll be refocused and re-energized and they’re going to get the bump and the boost from their fans, and then it’s about how the game is played once the puck is dropped.
So we came here and won two games. It’s 2?2 now, and Game 5 is a game in and of itself. Each team is going to be ready to try to establish their game right from the hop.
Q. Is it almost as difficult to stay off the roller coaster of emotions? And the first two games were the Penguins weren’t getting the goals, they were hitting the posts. Now it’s the Red Wings are tired. Is it hard not to get caught up in that and ride that wave?
COACH BYLSMA: It’s hard because there’s lots of talk about it, mostly from outside, you know, in our room we were not talking about getting bad breaks or it’s a referee’s call. We weren’t saying that. We were talking about playing our game and what we can do better and how we need to play better. That’s what we’re talking about.
Win or lose, we talk about what we did well, and what we can improve on or how we can execute better to get to our game. And we did the same thing after Game 3, and we’re doing the same thing today.
We’ve got to get to our game. We’ve got to play - we can play better. We can bring a different level to our game. We did at times. We had a different level in the second period there. But as a team we’re always focused on what we need to do, what we’re doing well, and how we can do things better.
Hopefully we bring that level?headed approach, whether it’s a loss or whether it’s a win. We’re no closer to the end than they are. We have two more wins to get, and we have a tall task going into a tough building against a very good team who is playing well.
It will all happen on Saturday for Game 5.
Q. The first six minutes of the third period, they really made their push at you. Fleury withstood it. How do you handle that in terms of the game in pivotal moments, and did you sense from that point on they had given their best shot and they were pretty much done?
COACH BYLSMA: I didn’t sense that was their best shot and they were done. I didn’t think that at all. We anticipated the push from them. We anticipated them being even more active in the rush and taking more chances in terms of “D” being active in the offensive zone, and they’re a dangerous team.
They have very good players. So at no time did it feel like on our bench that this thing was over or that we were in full control. You had to keep playing the right way. And the last thing you want to do against a team like that is give them more time and space. It makes them even that much more dangerous.
We were trying to execute with the puck, score the puck, and get in the offensive zone at all times. You don’t want to be in the defensive zone with the Red Wings.
Q. Last night Crosby and Malkin together scored a very important goal. What is your thinking about when you put them on the ice together? Why don’t you do it more often, stuff like that?
COACH BYLSMA: Why don’t I do it more often? It sometimes that their focus when they’re together can be all on offense. That can be a distraction to playing the right way, sometimes. But I think our team is very strong when we can have three centers like that. You know, with Sidney and Geno and Jordan coming down the pipe, it’s tough to handle, and it gives different ?? if they were on the same line and they put one checking line out against them, then they have their best checkers against our forwards and they’d be chasing us around all night long.
When they go after Sidney, then Jordan and Geno get different looks from different lines. So there’s reasons why to keep them apart.
But at times when I put them together, sometimes it’s a need for more offense. Sometimes it’s after an icing when the match?up you’re going to get. And it gives an opportunity to maybe have a burst together.
We’ve done it a couple of times in this series, and fortunately in this situation you can see what the two can do in a situation. And sometimes it works and the coach looks good, and sometimes it doesn’t work and you guys don’t write about it, which is kind.
Q. What do you suppose it’s like for a defenseman and a goaltender to see those two coming in two?on?one?
COACH BYLSMA: I’m not going to speak for what they’re thinking in their brain. But if I was out there, I know I had games against great players, and it’s going through your mind. It’s going through my mind. Oh, goodness, that’s Mario Lemieux. So I’m sure Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are coming down on a two-on-one, if I was the defenseman, I’d be - it’s different than if Dan Bylsma and Mike Yeo are coming down on you two-on-one. You don’t need to ask that question, it’s obvious.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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